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This is the hook. A hook seduces the audience into reading an essay whether or not it is worthy of the audience’s time or attention. Hooks are commonly quotes, questions, or shocking statistics. The next sentences smoothly introduce the subject, whether it be love, hate, Shakespeare, proofs - or lack thereof - of global warming, or the effects of mythological creatures in humanity’s present existence. The last sentence of this paragraph, which is commonly called the “Introductory Paragraph,” is the all-powerful, make-it-or-break-it thesis statement. Cue dramatic music. A thesis statement thoroughly yet succinctly informs the reader of the purpose of the essay. Thesis statements as a general rule are the longest and most complex sentences of papers because a great portion of the grade hinges on the adequacy of this particular declaration. A poor thesis statement: In this essay, you will read about the definition essay and how to write one worthy of a passing grade in a high school English course. A stronger thesis statement: By delving into the history of the definition essay, comparing the definition essay to other common essays, and stating exemplary topics for the definition essay, the definition essay will emerge from the shadows of uncertainty from whence it came and become a shining beacon of hope for those whose writing capabilities are limited to slovenly lingo and fifth grade vocabularies.

The topic sentence, which is essentially a paragraph-scaled thesis statement, is the first sentence of every paragraph. These help organize the essay and ensure the reader is on par with the writer. For example: Although the origins of the definition essay are shrouded in obscurity, it is generally believed that it was created by either a young, new professor with an artistic flare who wished to challenge the conventions of traditional essay writing or an old, rather senile teacher who needed more grades for the semester. The writer then proceeds to expound upon the ideas set forth in the topic sentence. Usually the first paragraph details some background for the rest of the essay to fall back on in case the new, less certain ideas presented in later paragraphs are found to be disagreeable by the teacher. The history should be factual rather than taken from the subjective mindset of essayist. Therefore, rather than writing, “The definition essay is a silly and worthless endeavor in education,” the writer should consider, “The definition essay is degraded by some to be a fruitless attempt at written art, yet others believe it frees students to write in new styles and techniques.” Of course, this particular stipulation is to be taken under the discretion of the essayist himself. False witness is only the eighth of the Ten Commandments, after all.

The third paragraph of a definition essay is usually the longest and most boring. By now the reader is suckered in hook, line, and sinker, so the writer takes advantage of that and stuffs the least entertaining information in the middle of the essay. The third paragraph may include sentences such as, “As opposed to the research paper, the definition essay does not require extensive outside information, but is rather a more subjective essay, depending upon the opinions and experiences of the author,” or “The definition essay may be likened to a character sketch, however the definition essay does not confine its subjects to only people, but may attempt to sketch anything from intangible nouns, such as faith and patriotism, to events, such as the Spanish-American War or the signing of the Magna Carta.” The last sentence of a paragraph ought to be a transition statement. True to their name, these sentences transition from one paragraph to the next, closing up on idea and then leading into another.

Ah, the fourth paragraph. Now the reader is in the home stretch and is ready to start wrapping things up. The writer himself is no doubt tiring of sentence composition. Therefore the fourth paragraph is usually shorter than the previous three and contains a few grammatical errors. Some teachers believe the fourth paragraph is the place to really drive home the writer’s point by presenting the strongest argument, however this technique may lead to the downfall of a paper considering - as afore mentioned - that the essayist may be too wearied of the subject to give the strongest argument the credit due to it. Rather, the essayist may choose this paragraph to explain why the subject is applicable to the reader or even give examples of how to live out the truths presented by the essay. For example: Not every topic is suitable for a definition essay, and generally safe, albeit cliché topics are love (including the phrase, “rainbows of happiness,” in the essay may earn bonus points), music (taking the approach, “Who doesn’t listen to music?” is always golden), and life (for the Jesus freak who loves babies or the ambitious politician willing to risk it all). Slipping in a few allusions or inside jokes is a sure-fire way to help the reader through and will give the essay charm and character. All things considered, who doesn’t need brownie points when an English grade is on the line?

This sentence is properly called, “the beginning of the end.” Unfortunately, it rarely lives up to its glamorous name. Teachers usually say that the conclusion paragraph is basically the introductory paragraph in different words. However, genius is only struck ever so often, and if the essay is steeped in literary prodigy, the conclusion is left to wither and die. The fifth paragraph is just a conglomeration of synonyms and therefore usually sounds like a regurgitated beginning. Very pleasant. Another rule is, “Do not introduce any new ideas!” which again results in recycled metaphors and jaded phrases. Alas, the only hope from this impending doom is the entirely logical assumption that the audience is also tired of the essay and will go along with anything as long as it signifies the end. There is one redeeming grace: the last line. The last line needs to leave the reader thinking - heaven forbid an essay actually cause the reader to string two brain cells together - and preferably refers back to the hook, thus again seducing the reader to go back and start reading over again. A poor last line: The definition essay is a great assignment and should be encouraged in schools across the world. A stronger last line: The only hindrances now remaining between the reader and the definition essay are a pen and paper. The best last line: This is the last line.





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